Coffee as mere caffeine conveyance? That's so 1992. In Chicago and other big cities, people's interest in their cup of joe actually tasting good started with, yes, that big green monster called Starbucks in the early '90s. But about ten years later the second wave of coffee innovation was upon us, and everybody (Intelligentsia and Metropolis, specifically) started roasting their own beans in small, carefully sourced batches. We were hooked.
Chicago is now deep in the third wave of coffee culture typified by new brewing techniques, such as the time-consuming pour-over method, that bring out nuanced flavors. Indie coffee shops that have opened in the past couple of years, from Asado to Star Lounge to DarkCloud, are so serious about their beans and brewing they border on obsessive. But the more obsessive they become about their techniques, the more obsessive we become about their coffee.
Here's our guide to Chicago coffee: where to drink it, what to eat at coffee shops and unexpected spots for a great cup.
Best coffee shops
Whether you want a quick cup of drip coffee, pour-over, Chemex, cappuccino or latte, try one of the best coffee shops in Chicago
5 new coffee shops open
We review 5 new spots to fuel up.
15 spots to drink coffee now
David Tamarkin and Julia Kramer pick the top coffeehouses.
Best decaf coffee
Six places to get good decaf coffee.
Unusual spots to get coffee
Grap a cup of joe at a hat store, bars and more.
Coffeehouses with good food
Five cafés that take their food as seriously as their coffee.
Our barista crushes
Readers and staffers reveal their favorite baristas at local coffee houses.
Laura Baginski goes to Asado Coffee Co. to learn the pour-over brewing technique.
Five coffee shops with quirky decor.
Confessions of a barista crush
Kris Vire confesses his crush on a barista.
Coffee shop stats
How coffee is brewed, how much you'll pay and how long you'll wait at coffee shops around town.